Feisty in the garden

Feisty in the garden

The weather at the moment is going from one extreme to the other – hurricane winds, frost and monsoon like rain, to boiling heat and blinding sun. As such, it’s extremely hard to get my bike, Feisty, up and down my garden as the grass and mud is very slippy. I really need to do a long ride but it’s impossible to plan one at the moment.

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Surprise boar

Surprise boar

At noon today, we went for a walk along the abandoned country road near the house. On the return journey I stopped for a pee. I’d just undone my flies when I realized that, not 50 feet away, was the largest boar I’d ever seen in my life. At first I thought it was a bear.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity, i left my flies undone and took out my camera. He was immense and the adrenaline was pumping through me. I had no idea what to do if he decided to charge as there was nowhere to run to and I didn’t have my valaska, my shepherd’s axe, with me. Eventually he noticed us and then ran off into the bush. I can’t begin to describe the sensation. We’d been talking about various problems and issues, extremely wide ranging topics, but upon spotting the boar, every ounce of focus sharpened, Zen like, into one object. The world condensed into the size of that boar and fight or flight reaction. It was an amazing feeling – scary but enlightening.

I’ve no idea why there are so many boar this year. I’ve lived here for 17 years and never seen as many in that entire time as i have within the last month.

And yes, I did do up my flies….

School’s out in the Ukraine

School’s out in the Ukraine

This week I’ve had my father and his wife visiting. As it’s a country my father hasn’t visited yet, we decided to go to the Ukraine. This time we went by coach as it saves a lot of time at the border and removes the hassle of paying for security parking. Altogether, there were 6 of us – my father and his wife, my brother and his girlfriend, and my wife and myself.

Unlike last time I visited, we didn’t go to the Carpathian region but instead went to the reasonably large city of Uzhorod. The coach dropped us and a few others off at a giant market just outside of the city and we arranged a time to be picked up. After an hour of walking around the market we decided to hop on a local bus (an experience in itself) and head into the town proper. It was a boiling hot day and the town centre was packed. All schools closed for summer holidays so there were thousands of kids walking round, many dressed in traditional costume, shouting “School’s finished!”. It was hard to get a seat in any of the myriad cafes and restaurants because there were school kids everywhere.

While the market just felt seriously dodgy, the town centre was surprisingly elegant and had a good happy atmosphere. Since the disbanding of the police force, their lack of presence was extremely notable.

While our visitors didn’t enjoy themselves as they were expecting something completely different, it wasn’t too bad of a trip. As usual, I was just pleased to get back over the border again without any hiccups.

Boar and brother

Boar and brother

Yesterday, my brother came to my village house. He’d arrived at his mini-castle a couple of days earlier after a long drive from England. After dinner, we decided to go for a walk with his girlfriend and our dogs. It was late dusk and there were herds of red deer everywhere. Bizarrely, there was also a large sounder of boar grazing in a high grass field jut next to the abandoned road. There were perhaps 15 of them, including several piglets, although due to the tall vegetation and ridges in the hill side meadow, we only initially noticed a couple and they seemed quite some distance away. When we saw just how close the rest were to us, as they were just outside the treeline and barely visible at first, our mood changed.

Taking photos was difficult as there was little light and there was a strong wind blowing. I used my eldest son’s shoulder as a rest and had the Canon’s telephoto full extended, which meant all the pictures turned out blurry. What really freaked me was when I watched one particularly large boar charge at us. Luckily, it stopped maybe 20 metres from its group and then stood its ground. Unusually, the boars didn’t run off, instead the adults formed a barricade between us and the piglets, and then they carried on grazing. It was quite scary to see just how unafraid of us they were and that they were prepared to defend both their piglets and their grazing ground.

I don’t think my brother and his girlfriend realize just how lucky they were to see a group of boar at such close range, especially on her first trip out into the bush. I’ve had many people visit over the years and most have gone away without seeing these primal creatures. Last night really was like an advert for just how wild and wildlife-filled my area is. It was amazing – and adrenaline inducing.

Beaver roadkill

Beaver roadkill

This morning, whilst driving around Lake Domasa, I saw what I thought to be a dead boar on the road. a forestry officer pulled over in front of it, and me in front of him. It turned out to be an extremely large beaver. Sadly, this is the first I’ve seen and it happened to be dead.

I was stunned at just how large it was. Much larger than a badger.

Since someone high up made the idiotic decision to redirect all truck traffic around Lake Domasa, thousands of Polish and Romanian lorries plough along what was once a beautiful country road. The wildlife doesn’t stand a chance.

Wolf scat close to home

Wolf scat close to home

We went for a walk with the dog last night along the abandoned road close to my house in the village. A few hundred metres from home, as the crow flies, I came across this pile of wolf scat. Due to the inordinately hot weather we’ve been having it was too desiccated to calculate how long it had been there, but its size shows that it was a large wolf.

Interestingly, I always find wolf scat on the outside of the forest and never in it – wolves definitely mark their territorial boundaries.

This morning I found a nice small round hole in my leg where I’d obviously scratched a tick off in the night. With this heat, we’ll have loads of them this year.